Article by Liva Pērkone, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Helve
Sustainability is currently the hottest topic in business. At the same time, everyone understands it differently and means something else with their sustainability concept. Consequently, many companies are still trying to understand how to put it into practice and implement sustainability in their business processes. Hence, if there is no single roadmap, what could be the main overlapping and common touch points on the road to sustainable business?
Sustainability is here to stay
In recent years, the focus of implementing the European Green Deal has shifted from environmental concerns to business growth, jobs, and the well-being of society. Still, it is clear to most entrepreneurs that the direction is irreversible. Of course, change is usually not pleasant - it causes inconvenience, but development is not possible without change.
European Union legislation is increasingly defining what is green, sustainable, and therefore supportable. 37% of the European Recovery Fund resources available to Latvia are intended to achieve climate goals. Around 100 central banks and financial supervisors worldwide are currently joining the Financial Systems Greening Network to help develop climate and environmental risk management in the financial sector. Banks in cooperation with their customers have already assessed the sustainability aspects of companies and the potential political risks and benefits of climate change and industry. As new laws, requirements, and support for green and sustainable ideas grow rapidly, the choice remains in the hands of entrepreneurs - see it as a threat or an opportunity.
Who benefits from it?
Becoming a sustainable business means, first and foremost, a change in the mindset and approach. Sustainable business seeks to reduce harm and promote the potentially positive effects on the environment, society, and the economy. This can be achieved in two ways - through long-term viable business processes or the creation of new products or services.
Any sustainability initiative is based on financial gain or another strategic goal. At first sight, sustainability initiatives may seem to involve additional costs, but in the long run, the opposite is true. Meaning the long-term benefits of sustainability innovation outweigh the costs. For instance, investing in more economical use of different resources will reduce the cost of raw materials, energy, and recycling, allowing the company to save and become more environmentally friendly. Sustainability innovations can help boost competitiveness - as more and more customers vote for a brand with their purchase, sustainability initiatives boost customer loyalty.
The image of an environmentally friendly and socially responsible company also helps to attract and retain employees, for whom the company's values are becoming an increasingly important motivator. Brave companies are also asking and listening to their employees: how can we become more environmentally friendly, reduce resource consumption, and pollute the environment less? In addition, sustainability is also an essential consideration for investors: when choosing where to invest, investors look at the environmental, social, and good governance aspects.
The opportunity to learn has no limits
Sustainability is essential for business, but how to start building your sustainability strategy? The first step would be to adopt the basic idea of sustainable business: we want to make money without harming the environment or by making a positive difference to the environment and society. While there is no ideal organization without any footprint, there still are many valuable ideas, technologies, solutions, and each of them takes us steps closer to the result.
At the moment, no one has the right answer - the essence of innovation is to try, make mistakes and share experiences. Sustainability is not patentable, so this is an area where it is crucial to share experiences with others and learn from their success and mistakes. Therefore, we are pleased to see that over 300 Baltic companies have applied for the first Baltic sustainability innovations awards, "Rimi Baltic Sustainability Awards," this year. It is gratifying that we have made a step outside our introverted northerners nature and demonstrate our readiness to share our experience with others - the more we cooperate, the faster we grow and the better for society as a whole. The scale and impact of the initiatives submitted (undeniably very different) and the large number of applications are good indicators that sustainability innovation has become every day for many entrepreneurs today.